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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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THE   CHINESE   MIND                       85

point of historic fact might have involved repeated trips and
an encyclopaedic erudition, but his errors are difficult to check
and the fact that he is correct is not immediately visible, and
can only be appreciated because no writer in the three centuries
after him has been able to establish a point against him.

Thus we see an opposition of "logic" versus common sense,
which takes the place of inductive and deductive reasoning in
China. Common sense is often saner because the analytic
reasoning looks at truth by cutting it up into various aspects,
thus throwing them out of their natural bearings, while common
sense seizes the situation as a living whole. Women have a
more robust common sense than men, and in times of any
emergency, I always depend on the judgment of a woman
rather than that of a man. They have a way of sizing up a
situation in its totality without being distracted by its in-
dividual aspects. In the best Chinese novels, like the Red
Chamber Dream and the Tehsao Paoyen (An Uncouth Old Man's
Chats), the women are pictured as the soundest judges of
situa'tions, and their speech has a way of putting it as a rounded
whole which is extremely fascinating. Logic without such
common sense is dangerous, because when a man holds an
opinion it is easy enough for him, with his academic brain, to
evolve arguments "a," "b" and "c" to his own satisfaction,
and yet he may be like the scholar, Mr. Casaubon, in
Middlemarch who fails to perceive what every man could
perceive in the life of his own wife.

This religion of common sense has a philosophic basis. It
is interesting to note that the Chinese do not judge the correct-
ness of a proposition by the appeal to reason alone, but by
the double appeal to reason and to human nature. The Chinese
word for "reasonableness" is cKingli> which is composed of
two elements, cKing (jencKing)^ or human nature, and li (fienli),
or eternal reason. CKing represents the flexible, human element,
while li represents the immutable law of the universe. Out of
the combination of these two factors comes the standard of
judgment for a course of action or an historical thesis.

Something of this distinction may be seen in the English
contrast between "reason" and "reasonableness." It was
Aristotle, I believe, who said that man is a reasoning, but not